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The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia - for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire - secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 under the new name of Romania. The country gained full independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories following the conflict. In 1940, it allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist "people's republic" in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989.
Former Communists dominated the government until 1996, when they were swept from power by a fractious coalition of centrist parties. Currently, the Social Democratic Party forms a nominally minority government, which governs with the support of the opposition Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania. Bucharest must address rampant corruption, while invigorating lagging economic and democratic reforms, before it can achieve its hope of joining the European Union. Romania did join NATO in March of 2004.
Map of Romania ( Location ) : 46 00 N, 25 00 E, Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine. For additional reports and educational information specific to Romania, refer to the Country Info menubar to the upper right.
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